Finally there is a solution that window 10 offers that I thought would never come. Refreshing my computer without losing the apps. Well, supposedly it is possible within Windows 10 itself. However every time I've tried it I get errors. I have to find the latest build and have that available as a reference for the computer to refresh. So far it's never worked for me. Reluctantly, more than once with all the bugs Windows 10 has I've had to sacrifice my programs if I wanted the OS back in good order.
I'd make numerous images every couple of days and they take a lot of space. Plus, I've found out more than once that when in a tight spot and I must get the image back, I'm treated with "corrupt image" That is with the Windows 10 image maker and Macrium and also Acronis. It's been something I've accepted as a coin toss over the years that's why I make so many backup's.
This time Windows 10 bugs started cropping up again after an update.. The task bar was floating and flashing and I couldn't open folders by clicking on them any more and in the error log the list went on and on with warnings and critical alerts and finally when trying to make another image it refused and said the C drive is corrupt. That's all fine and good but this time chkdsk couldn't fix it. So in the forums the best answer was to make a new user account. I tried that but to get your self back as the user you have to make a non Microsoft account, transfer data to that account, delete the primary Microsoft account and then make another Microsoft account in my name and transfer that data again from the local account just made. That was time consuming and was not the best answer because the folders would still not open with a click or two clicks!
Throwing up my hands I said that's it, I'm going to do a clean install of windows 10. In the back of my mind I'm thinking since it doesn't have a key I'll have to first install windows 8.1 and dig up its key somewhere. (I'm not good with keeping things like that around). Well, I went to the windows 10 download webpage and recall reading that if you do a reinstall over windows 10 that it should be fine and it will keep all your files. Because I had never been able to do that with a disc of windows 10 I was skeptical but guess what? Eureka! It actually did exactly what it said it would do and was able to completely update windows 10 without deleting all my programs! I couldn't believe it worked so well. Maybe I've been in the dark or really just had bad luck, but for me this is an earth shaking defining moment in my computer life. No need for images of entire computer and files. Just backup personal files now. I'm going to do a complete refresh keeping all my apps on my other computer just to be sure I didn't do this in a dream. Please, Microsoft don't mess this up or change anything about the refresh process other than making it work within the installed windows 10. I just had to tell someone that may benefit from this because I don't think everyone knows this is possible. For real, I mean. Lots of talk about it but until now it's finally worked as it has been claimed to work. What a relief.